On January 9, 2022, Israel loosened several pandemic-related restrictions on the entry of foreign nationals. The country had previously relaxed its entry restrictions in November 2021 but re-imposed them only weeks later following the identification of the omicron variant. Under the new reopening guidelines, fully vaccinated foreign nationals, as well as some unvaccinated but recovered individuals, will be allowed to enter Israel. Continue Reading Israel Reopens Borders to Entry by Foreign Nationals

On December 23, 2021, the Department of State announced that consular officers are now authorized to waive the in-person interview requirement for certain temporary work visa applicants who have petitions approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  This authorization will expire on December 31, 2022.  Interviews may be waived for temporary workers applying for the following visa types:  H-1, H-3, H-4, L, O, P, and Q.  As the authorization requires a USCIS-approved petition, it does not appear to apply to individual visa applications submitted pursuant to approved “L” blankets.  In order to qualify, an applicant must meet the following requirements:

Continue Reading State Department Will Waive Interviews for Many Temporary Work Visa Applicants

Updated:  December 21, 2021

Federal law requires that employers must properly complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for each worker hired to perform labor or services in the United States. The form documents that the employer took steps to verify the identity and employment authorization of the worker. Normally, the employer must physically examine each document submitted by the employee to determine whether it reasonably appears to be genuine and related to the person presenting it.

Due to safety precautions implemented to protect communities from the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued guidance in March 2020 that employers may temporarily postpone the in-person verification requirement with a remote inspection (e.g., video, fax, email). The announcement included instructions for annotating the Form I-9 when using the flexibility rules. Recently, DHS extended this policy through April 30, 2022.

The provision applies to employers and employees working remotely due to the COVID pandemic. Once operations resume, employers that inspected employee documents remotely must re‑examine those documents in-person. Accordingly, employers must keep track of those employees whose records must be reexamined when the provision expires.

After completing the Form I-9, employers enrolled in E‑Verify may electronically confirm the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees. E-Verify compares the data from the Form I-9 against government records. It is a free, online service administered by DHS and the Social Security Administration.

To assist employers, DHS offers multimedia resources and training for completing the Form I‑9. Click here for a list of upcoming Form I-9 DHS Webinars.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DHS has created temporary policies for E-Verify and Form I-9 to help employers.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced its preliminary fiscal year (FY) 2021 agency statistics and accomplishments.  Over the years, the agency consistently has reported on substantially similar metrics that align with its mission, along with policy, legislative and regulatory items that comport with the strategic direction of the Administration.

Continue Reading USCIS Announces Fiscal Year 2021 Accomplishments

Effective December 15, 2021, the Australian government will allow fully vaccinated travelers in eligible visa categories to travel to and from Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption. The government had previously planned to ease travel restrictions beginning December 1, but postponed those plans because of the identification of the omicron variant. In a press conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that the easing of travel restrictions will move forward as planned beginning December 15.

Continue Reading Australia Eases Border Restrictions for Eligible Visa Holders

On November 29, 2021, the Chilean government announced that it would postpone the relaxation of various pandemic-related entry restrictions. The relaxation was set to begin on December 1 but has been delayed indefinitely due the emergence of the omicron variant. The government’s announcement also included the imposition of travel restrictions covering seven African nations.

Continue Reading Chile Delays Relaxation of Border Restrictions Due to Omicron Variant

In response to the omicron variant, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has significantly shortened the time period during which travelers must secure a negative COVID-19 test before traveling to the United States.  All air passengers 2 years or older with a flight departing to the U.S. from a foreign country after 12:01am EST on December 6, 2021, are required show a negative COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than 1 day before travel, or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, before they board their flight.  Previously, the 1-day rule only applied to unvaccinated travelers, and vaccinated travelers were allowed 3 days before departure to secure negative test results. Continue Reading CDC Now Requires COVID Testing 1 Day Prior to Travel to the US

On November 26, 2021, Taiwan announced that it would add six African countries – South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe – to its list of “key high-risk countries,” effective November 29, 2021. Effective December 1, Taiwan also added Malawi, Mozambique, Egypt, and Nigeria to the list of key high-risk countries. Individuals who have traveled in any of these ten countries within the past fourteen days must quarantine at government group quarantine facilities for fourteen days and complete an additional seven-day self-health management period. The announcements are part of Taiwan’s effort to slow the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Continue Reading Taiwan Updates Entry Restrictions in Light of Omicron Variant

On November 29, 2021, the Australian government announced that it would delay its plan to reopen the country to fully vaccinated visa holders in light of the identification of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. The delay is effective through at least December 15, 2021, and applies to students, skilled workers, and those carrying humanitarian, working holiday, and family visas. In its announcement, the government cited the need to gather more information to better understand the omicron variant, including its transmissibility, severity, and interaction with existing vaccines.

Continue Reading Australia Postpones Relaxation of Entry Restrictions for Visa Holders